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15 Empowering Books About Mental Health, Trauma & Diversity for Kids and Adults

mental health books

Books can be incredible resources for parents, caregivers, kids and teens to gain the tools they need to overcome life’s challenges. We’re sharing the following books to help parents and youth equip themselves to manage complex topics such as parenting, mental health, foster care, trauma, diversity and more.

Look for these picks at your local library or preferred bookstore to gain knowledge that will help you throughout your journey.

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Books for Parents and Caregivers

mental health booksWhat Happened to You? By Bruce R. Perry and Oprah Winfrey – IndieBound / Amazon

What are the root causes behind our reactions and behaviors? In this book, authored by both Oprah Winfrey and brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry, you’ll learn to shift questions from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”  

To help adults and children move from self-blame, this book shows how our early experiences shape our lives and provides insights into difficult-to-understand behavioral patterns.


Empowered Women Empower Girls By Melody Pourmoradi – Amazon

When you learn to become a resilient, confident and strong woman, you can better teach young girls how to accomplish the same. 

This book teaches women how to find self-love and acceptance, while at the same time teaching that to the young women in their lives. Becoming the role model of empowerment yourself is the key to empowering girls.


So You Want to Talk About Race By Ijeoma Oluo – IndieBound / Amazon

Ijeoma Oluo’s book is an ideal conversation starter to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities. Covering such topics as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality and the Black Lives Matter movement, this book can provide an important education for parents and caregivers. 


mental health booksSiblings Without Rivalry By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – IndieBound / Amazon

Tired of conflict between siblings at home? This acclaimed book offers expert advice and practical tools to help caregivers cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition and make it possible for children to experience the joys of sibling relationships. Better yet, you’ll learn all that with a bit of humor and an understanding tone. From learning when to intervene, to understanding fairness between kids, you’ll gain helpful insights in this book. 


mental health booksThe Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read By Philippa Perry – IndieBound / Amazon

Relationships can be incredibly difficult to navigate. In this book, leading psychotherapist Philippa Perry teaches what supports and what damages connections. You’ll learn how your upbringing shaped you, tools to handle children’s feelings and plenty of judgment-free resources to have the best possible relationships with the people who matter to you most.

Books for Younger Kids

Hair Love By Matthew A. Cherry – IndieBound / Amazon

Studies show an important connection between children’s healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. Hair Love is a wonderful portrayal of the beauty of natural hair, from the point of view of a father and daughter. With positive messages about patience and hard work, this book can be a great experience for caregivers and children to read together.


Emmanuel’s Dream By Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls – IndieBound / Amazon

This picture book tells the true and inspiring story of a boy who was born with a deformed leg in Ghana, Africa. While many thought he wouldn’t accomplish anything, his mother taught him to reach for his dreams. Children will see in this book how Emmanuel became a cyclist and rode across Ghana to share his story. It is an encouraging read to build awareness and perspective around disabilities


mental health booksGet a Grip, Vivy Cohen! By Sarah Kapit – IndieBound / Amazon

This book provides a great opportunity to talk about autism. In the story, Vivy wants to play baseball but struggles as the only girl and autistic child on the team. She later finds a role model and learns to deal with setbacks throughout her journey to stay in the game.


I Am Enough By Grace Byers – IndieBound / Amazon

Some say this poem should be required reading for all. It teaches readers that we are all complete and we are all enough — just exactly as we are. With a natural-haired lead, children will learn about why empowerment and self-love are so important.


mental health booksThe Feeling Flower By Leah Mahealani Dakroub – IndieBound / Amazon

Through reading about a flower’s adventurous day, readers will learn about coping with change and the emotions connected to it. As the flower deals with extreme weather and disappointment that comes with it, children learn about feelings and challenging circumstances. 

Books for Teens

mental health booksConcrete Kids By Amyra Leon IndieBound / Amazon

In this teen-focused book, playwright, musician and educator Amyra León uses free verse to challenge youth to dream beyond their circumstances. The story takes readers on a poetic journey through Amyra’s childhood in Harlem, as she navigates the intricacies of foster care, mourning, self-love and resilience.


mental health booksTurtles All the Way Down By John Green – IndieBound / Amazon

Always a popular pick among teens, author John Green shares about important mental health topics inside a thrilling story in this read. As the main character struggles to be good at everything, she ends up taking on a mystery with a friend. Readers will learn about anxiety, OCD and mental illness in a relatable and understandable way.


This Book Is Anti-Racist By Tiffany Jewell – IndieBound / Amazon

Navigating racism and bias can be incredibly challenging for teens. This book offers 20 activities to help youth think about racism and what they can do to disrupt it.

By learning about social identities and the history of racism, young people can build an anti-racist lens and voice to help the world move toward equity and liberation.


mental health booksScars Like Wings By Erin Stewart – IndieBound / Amazon

Through a relatable and endearing story, teen readers can learn about loss and resilience. The book follows a girl who loses her parents, home, friend and self-esteem. Little by little, she meets friends who are different like her and moves forward to get her life back. Readers will learn the strength in choosing to be who you are rather than hide in the background.


mental health booksMy Friend Fear By Meera Lee Patel – IndieBound / Amazon

Through reflection, inspirational quotes and beautiful images, readers learn to find magic in moments of fear and uncertainty. Meera Lee Patel shows us how fear is an opportunity to make big changes and that by looking within, we can find fantastic potential within ourselves.

There is so much we can learn from books about mental health, trauma and diversity as we work to navigate life’s challenges and prepare children to do the same. With these resources, we hope you’ll gain more tools to take on challenges as they come and grow stronger through them. 

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